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Archives for: February 2007

Canadian MERs - An Outrage

February 28th, 2007  · stk

Canadian investors pay the highest mutual fund management fees of any country in the developed world. Not a little bit more - a LOT more. Find out why, the real cost to Canadian investors and what they can do about it

2008 Update

  • The IFIC responds.
  • Updated Report (Jun 2007)
  • Canadian Discount Brokers

read the update

Mutual Fund Management Fees Take Canadian Investors on an Expensive Ride

I have been investing in U.S. mutual funds since the early 1980's and have extensive experience with U.S. no-load mutual fund companies such as Vanguard, T.Rowe Price, Scudder, American Century & Janus, among others.

I recently had the opportunity to investigate Canadian mutual funds and what I saw, absolutely shocked me. Canadians pay more for their mutual funds than any other developed country. Not a little bit more - a LOT more! More than any of the other 18 industrialized nations that were the focus of a joint Harvard and London Business School study, published last year (Source: Mutual Fund Fees Around the World - Feb. 2006 Draft).

The study found that Canadians pay a TER of 2.68%. Compare this to U.S. investors, who pay 1.42%. The next closest country was Luxembourg, at 1.75%, which is still over 90 basis points less than the Canadian mean.

A 0.93% to 1.26% difference in management fees may not sound like a lot, but it's nearly 1.9 times more than what U.S. investors pay and the dollar value, over the lifetime of a typical RRSP, will add up - both in terms of direct fees and loss of investment return. It's an albatross around the neck of Canadian mutual fund investors.

To learn why Canadian investors pay the highest MERs of any country, see how much money this can cost them on a typical investment and what they should do to stop it ... read on.

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Updated: 26-Jan-2009
Web View Count: 66432 viewsLast Web Update: 26-Jan-2009

Christmas Photo Gallery

February 21st, 2007  · stk

Have a look at my first pass attempt to find a pure-CSS photo gallery that be displayed with in-line text. Display as many images as you want to impose on your visitors! Demonstration uses family photos from Christmas photos

First-pass at a Pure-CSS PZ3 Photo Gallery

pz3 photo gallery

Around Christmas, I had an idea for a way to display a multitude of images in a pure-CSS photo-zoom gallery, utilizing Photo-caption Zoom v3 (PZ3).

Many people like PZ3, but some try to use it to build a photo gallery. I designed it to add zoomed images (and an optional caption), into XHTML pages. While it works great - is easy to deploy, saves page real-estate, looks nice - it doesn't handle multitudes of images very well (at least, not "out of the box").

Until now.

I've finally taken the time to play with it a bit (it took most of yesterday morning to hack through the details ... and then most of the afternoon and night to put it all together into a demonstration). :D

If you're into CSS, like PZ3 ... or want to see 40+ family Christmas photos ... read on! (Dial-up visitors beware ... image data ahead!)

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Updated: 25-Nov-2008
Web View Count: 58623 viewsLast Web Update: 25-Nov-2008
Filed in:Alexandra
Family

Oop Goes Dental

February 19th, 2007  · stk

Alex's first dentist visit, although not nearly as soon as recommended, was a huge success (she's not afraid of the man in white, as much as her Dad) first dentist visit

Alexandra's First Dentist Visit

A couple of weeks ago, Alex made her first trip to the dental office. Perhaps it should have come sooner, but at 3 and a quarter years of age, we felt that the time was "right" to introduce Alex to a dental pick. (Mostly, it's because, for the first time since Alex was born, we have family dental coverage).

Alex made the 12-minute car ride to Cedar, the closest town, in relative silence. She wasn't sure what to expect, being her first time and all, but she did know where she was going.

Rachel took her. So this is a third-hand story ... hearsay, I think, is the legal reference to the quality of such news! (Still, I expect that Rachel will correct any bits I get wrong.) ;)

To hear the story from a comfortable distance ... read on!

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Updated: 21-Feb-2007
Web View Count: 29135 viewsLast Web Update: 21-Feb-2007

Phone Hell

February 14th, 2007  · stk

Speaking to a live person at a company is extremely difficult in today's world. A typical start to a typically poor customer service inquiry with a Canadian credit card company is examined

Customer Service: A Way-off Broadway Production

Scene 1: (Split set) (1) A customer care centre, for a credit card company, somewhere in Ontario, Canada. (2) The office of a valued customer.

The curtain opens with the valued customer being welcomed by a humming, computer driven phone system. (There is only one actual person in the opening scene, which will save the credit card company oodles of money - and also actor fees, when the film rights are purchased).

phone system: "Welcome to RBC's credit card services (again in French), for English, press one, (french press two)."

valued customer: *presses one*

phone system: "Please choose one of the following five options"

valued customer: *listens to extremely long list of options, none of which seem to apply, so chooses the last one, which is a catch-all*

phone system: "Please enter your 16-digit credit card number, now."

valued customer: *says* ... "Damn, where's my wallet?" :|

valued customer: *says* "hmm ... I have to find my wallet" *hangs up* (exit stage left, sounds of frantic search ensues)

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Updated: 14-Feb-2007
Web View Count: 11834 viewsLast Web Update: 14-Feb-2007
Filed in:The Web
Site News

Writing an SPF Record

February 7th, 2007  · stk

Spammers are forging sender email addresses to make it look like their SPAM comes from our domain! ACK!! SPF to the rescue! Learn what it is, how it works & how to write your own SPF record.

spf logo

A Case for SPF Records

Nearly a month ago, we reported that our Randsco domain had been hijacked by spammers. They were sending their SPAM email, around the world, using bogus sender addresses from randsco.com. To anyone receiving the SPAM, it would look like it was coming "From: randsco.com"! 88|

The cure for this was to add a Sender Policy Framework (SPF) record to our DNS. For mail servers that check, the SPF record tells them if the email is really from randsco.com or not. Spammers will quickly learn that their "From: Whoever<at>randsco.com" emails won't get through and quit trying to forge the randsco.com domain.

Every domain owner should publish an SPF record.

If you own a domain, you should publish an SPF record. Even if you never send email from that domain, spammers can hijack it, which may result in your site being blacklisted and it also erodes people's confidence in the email medium.

Publishing an SPF record is easy. Knowing what the SPF record should contain can be confusing, depending on your email situation. Here is what I learned in publishing ours. Hopefully, it will be of value to you.

To learn about how SPF works and how to publish your own, read on ...

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Updated: 3-Jun-2008
Web View Count: 123527 viewsLast Web Update: 3-Jun-2008
Filed in:XHTML
The Web

Die Tables Die

February 2nd, 2007  · stk

Don't web designers now know NOT TO USE TABLES FOR PAGE LAYOUT? I thought so, but an email, received from the President of a web media company, says otherwise

Tables for tabular data ONLY ... NOT for LAYOUT!!

tableless designs

Last night, I had an interesting e-mail exchange, in which someone was using an ASP.net datalist to display three PZ3 images in a row. They were having problems with IE. (No surprise there). :p

First, I know very little about ASP.net, but I asked the fellow for a copy of the page (X)HTML and CSS and said I'd look into the problem.

It was a basic page, nothing too odd (though I did notice a bunch of ASP.net-specific bloat). I quickly found the problem: the fellow was using a table to contain the single row of three PZ3 images, each in their own cell (browsers often fail to correctly interpret CSS directives inside table cells).

I haven't used tables for layout in years and assumed that (by now) the message to do so, would've gotten out. Obviously not.

I wrote back and said, "Using a table to hold the three images is semantically incorrect (because no tabular data are being displayed) and the root of your problem. To fix it, just take the three images out of the table." I even provided some XHTML-valid code that would accomplish what he wanted (semantically correct and more succinct).

The response I got back, floored me.

I am displaying data from a [sic] XML file that display files. Those images are in each cell, so yes I am displaying tabular data. (emphasis mine)

Huh?

Maybe what he's trying to say is that "he can't get rid of the table", but if so, it's because of a limitation in the ASP.net language he's using and not because it's semantically incorrect to do so. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how ASP.net stores/retrieves/interprets the image data, what does matter is:

Displaying three images in a row, is NOT a display of "tabular data".

To top it off, this fellow isn't just anyone, he's the President of a web media company. He should KNOW BETTER!

The exchange bothered me enough that I thought I'd write my own version of "What I think should be tacitly understood anyone writing HTML code".

To find out why tables are bad (should be used for displaying tabular data, NOT FOR LAYOUT) and what is "tabular data" anyway? .... read on.

 

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Updated: 25-Nov-2008
Web View Count: 29551 viewsLast Web Update: 25-Nov-2008